Monmouth vs. Presbyterian (Monmouth Athletics)

CLINTON, S.C.- Monmouth University (5-2, 0-1 Big South) battled in its first Big South Conference game, taking a late fourth quarter lead before ultimately falling 18-12 to Presbyterian (5-3, 2-1 Big South) on Saturday afternoon.

“I thought our guys came out and played hard, it was a very tight game where the outcome was going to be changed on a play or two,” said Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan. “You have to give Presbyterian credit, they made some key plays at critical points that ended up being the difference in the game. I thought our defense had a great effort. As a unit they did a real good job for the most part but had some lapses towards the end of each half and that proved to be the difference in the game.”

The games’ first 42 minutes was a defensive grind with Monmouth taking a 9-7 lead with 3:10 left in third quarter on Lucas Santangelo’s (Jamaica Estates, N.Y./Hempstead) 41 yard field goal. The final 18:10 of the game saw four lead changes as the two teams went back and forth scoring points. Presbyterian answered with a 74 yard drive that ended in a field goal, to go up 10-9 with 9:24 to play in the fourth quarter. MU retook the lead, 12-10 with 4:19 to play before the Blue Hose would march 68 yards on eight plays, scoring the game’s final touchdown on a 15 yard Heys McMath run.

The Hawks had two shots in the final minute to overcome the 18-12 deficit but one drive ended in an interception while the second ended as time expired.

“Playing the first Big South game we knew we were in for a challenge but the good thing is that I think we showed that we belong and we can play in this league,” said Callahan. We just need to do some things better and the outcome will be different.”

Presbyterian held a 415-287 advantage in yardage, including 182 yards on 48 rushes. Monmouth quarterback Brandon Hill was 18-of-33 with 236 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) was impressive with seven catches for 136 yards and an 81 yard touchdown. Lavon Chaney (Edgewater, Md./River Hill) ran the ball 19 times for 62 yards and had four catches for 23 yards.

Linebacker John Sieczkowski (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) had nine solo stops as Mike Basile (Brick, N.J./Brick Memorial) had eight solo tackles and linebacker Tyler Thompson (Union Bridge, Md./Linganore) added seven takedowns. Monmouth’s defense held PC to 6-of-17 on third down but was just 4-of-14 itself.

Monmouth’s first play in Big South Conference history couldn’t have been scripted any better as Brandon Hill hit Neal Sterling for an 81 yard touchdown. The Hawks missed the extra point but led 6-0 with 14:42 left in the first quarter.

A defensive battle ensued with the next six combined possessions ending in punts. Presbyterian mounted a drive later in the first quarter but the Hawks stopped them on fourth down at their own 25.

The Blue Hose would take a 7-6 lead into halftime when sophomore Blake Roberts cruised in untouched from six yard out. The drive was set up by back to back 23 yard passing plays from McMath to get down to the six. The run capped a 10-play 83 yard drive and left just 1:00 left on the clock.
The defensive struggle continued throughout the third quarter before the Hawks retook the lead with 3:10 remaining. MU forced a three and out deep in Blue Hose territory and a 19 yard punt by the home squad set the Hawks up from the Presbyterian 28. Four plays later Lucas Santangelo gave the Hawks’ a 9-7 lead after converting a 41 yard kick.

After another three and out by the MU defense, Monmouth took over at midfield and drove down to the PC 19 before Ed Royds (Mount Laurel, N.J./Shawnee/Navy) was stripped at the 15 and Presbyterian pounced on the loose ball. The Blue Hose mounted an impressive drive from there, going 74 yards on 13 plays and retaking the lead (10-9) with a 28 yard Brandon Morrow field goal with 9:24 to play in the fourth quarter.

Monmouth’s offense responded on the ensuing drive by a 30 yard pass from Hill to Sterling to get MU out to the 44. Hill came back two plays later and found Thaddeus Richards (Burlington, N.J./Burlington) for a 23 yard grab setting up a fresh set of downs from the PC 23. The Hawks worked their way down to the PC 10 when the drive stalled on a pass breakup in the endzone. Santangelo came on and drilled his second kick of the afternoon and Monmouth led 12-10 with 4:19 to play in the game.

With one drive left, Presbyterian took over from its own 31 after a solid kickoff return. The Blue Hose drove down to the MU 30 with 1:03 left in the game. On the next play Monmouth was flagged with a facemask setting up PC with a first down from the Hawk 15 yard line. On the next play PC quarterback Heys McMath faked a screen and took the ball up the middle untouched to put his quad up 16-12. McMath connected with Tobi Antigha on the two point conversion and PC lead 18-12 to cap the 8-play, 68 yard drive.
Monmouth’s comeback attempt was quickly dismissed as Hill threw the ball short and PC’s LaRon Dickey was in perfect position to intercept it. The Hawks defense stopped PC on a fourth and one to regain the ball but time ran out on MU before the offense could cross midfield.

Roberts led all rushers with 83 yards on 21 carries while McMatch had 50 yards rushing to go along with 233 yards passing on 24-of-35 attempts. Antigha had nine catches for 78 yards while Donelle Williams led the Blue Hose defensively with eight tackles.

Monmouth returns home to host its first Big South Conference game when Charleston Southern comes to Monmouth Stadium on Saturday, November 1, 2014. That game will be televised on ESPN3.

Nest Notes:
-Monmouth’s streak of six straight seasons with a conference-opening win was snapped
-Neal Sterling now has 188 career catches, six behind Adam San Miguel for first all-time
-Sterling also has 20 touchdown receptions, one behind Will Holder for second all-time
-The all-time receiving yards record is in striking distance with four games left as Sterling has 452 yards to reach Miles Austin’s record of 2,867
-Ryan Mohr averaged 43 yards per punt with a long of 51 and two downed inside the 20
-Monmouth failed to cause a turnover for the first time all season
-PC held a 37:56-22:04 advantage in time of possession


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Pre Game & 1st Quarter


2nd Quarter


Half Time


3rd Quarter


4th Quarter and Post game